Kids compete in Dixie State First Lego League Qualifying Tournament

ST. GEORGE — The Dixie State First Lego League Qualifying Tournament was held on the Dixie State University campus Saturday. The tournament consisted of 47 teams made up of about 400 participating children, making it the largest qualifier in Utah, Dolores Heaton, tournament director, said. 

The First Lego League — For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology — offers a real-life application of science and math concepts, according to its website.

Teams of up to 10 children, ages 9 to 16, compete in a series of Lego-built robotic challenges. The students have two and a half minutes to score as many points as possible.

Talmage Burgoyne said he likes the more casual aspects.

“My favorite part is probably … just having fun with programming them and stuff,” he said. 

Other kids, like Kamrae Blake, like the way the tournament requires them to work together.

“I think it’s fun that we all get to work as a team and get to do the competitions,” Blake said. “I like doing the core values, since we all get to work as a team.”

The core values listed on the First Lego League website include the following:

  • We are a team
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors
  • We know our coaches and mentors don’t have all the answers; we learn together
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition
  • What we discover is more important than what we win
  • We share our experiences with others
  • We display Gracious Professionalism and “Coopertition” (a combination of cooperation and competition) in everything we do
  • We have fun

To prepare for a competition like this, kids meet each week to build and program their robots. Blake said her team met two days a week for an hour each day. Others work much longer hours.

Annette Esplin said the team she is in charge of has been meeting since the middle of September 2015 in preparation for the tournament, which is her school’s first. They initially met once a week for two hours, but in the week leading up to the event, they met every day for two hours. 

“I mean, it was well worth it,” Esplin said. “They’ve learned how to work well with each other.”

One of the things Esplin said she enjoys about the league is that it’s a place for kids who aren’t involved in traditional sports to share their creativity and skills.

“This is like their basketball court, I guess you can say, and they have had a super time,” she said. 

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